14 things that will keep Obama busy in 2016
A busy year ahead.
7 years down, 1 to go.
For all those who think US President Obama is going to coast into retirement, martini in hand, think again. In his final year of office, Obama will look to make an enduring mark on various fronts. Untethered from a future election, the President can boldly pursue his agenda.
Here are some of the things Obama will focus on in 2016:
Protect and expand Obamacare
Ever since Obamacare was enacted in 2010, it has been under constant legal assault by Republicans. While it’s unlikely for the sweeping health bill to be repealed at this point, it will remain a point of contention, especially as many presidential contenders proclaim they’ll make repeal a priority if elected.
In 2016, watch as Obama campaigns for states to accept Obamacare’s expanded medicaid coverage provision.
Rein in medical prices
The hedge funder Martin Shkreli became the US people’s number 1 enemy when he jacked up the price of a necessary AIDS and tuberculosis drug by 7,500%. Since then, the practice of medical price gouging and the generally inflated prices of drugs in the US have received wider coverage.
Watch for Obama to work with legislators to try to curb the practice of price gouging and establish other price controls to make drug industry fairer to consumers.
Some of Obama’s executive orders on climate change are currently being opposed in courthouses across the country. For instance, the mandate for coal plants to become energy efficient and for heavy polluters to be shuttered is under attack.
Watch for Obama to push for aggressive climate action.
Wars are raging in the Middle East, China’s economy is teetering, Russia remains aggressive, India is expanding and countries throughout the world are transitioning.
Watch in 2016 as the Obama administration, led by John Kerry, looks to bolster relationships abroad while promoting peace.
US Secretary of State John Kerry calls leaders in Saudi Arabia and Iran https://t.co/Gg9g2UzVxm— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 6, 2016
In 2015, Obama used his executive authority to stipulate how immigration enforcement should be carried out. He called on the Department of Homeland Security to focus on criminals, not law-abiding people. While this seems like common sense, it would have changed the aggressive deportation strategy that had been in place. However, the measure was blocked by a judge in Texas.
Watch for the Obama administration to continue the legal fight to implement the executive action as it potentially travels to the Supreme Court.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership became a nest of controversy in 2015. Many critics labeled the TPP a corporate giveaway that would continue to send US jobs overseas and this caught on as the popular narrative in the country .
Watch as Obama tries to improve the image of the TPP, emphasizing its attempt to protect US interests abroad, and persuade Congress to ratify it.
Criminal justice reform
One of the only areas of agreement between Republicans and Democrats is criminal justice reform. The US throws way too many people in jail and keeps people in jail for far too long. Both sides of the political spectrum want this to stop, both because it’s ethically wrong and because it costs so much money.
Watch for Obama to work with Congress to pass some bills aimed at reducing the amount of inmates and supporting reintegration programs for ex-convicts who currently face a barrage of obstacles to a normal life after being released from prison.
Police killings of unarmed black men, women and children have shocked and outraged the world. Most of the time, these murders reveal not just “bad apples” who abuse their power, but police departments that are thoroughly corrupt and promote abusive behavior. The Justice Department has investigated many police departments since 2008 and called for urgent reform.
In his final year, the Justice Department will continue to root out corruption in police departments.
One of the most familiar images from Obama’s presidency is his mourning face and defeated posture as he speaks once again about a mass shooting. Recently, he announced some modest executive actions he would take--mostly reinforcing existing laws--to combat the tide of gun violence.
In 2016, watch as Obama campaigns for grassroots efforts to limit gun violence and availability.
Another area where Republicans and Democrats agree is on drug abuse. Heroin addiction and overdoses have surged in the past decade and many people who may have once scorned drug addicts are changing their perspective. Now, instead of jail time, politicians are calling for better rehabilitation programs.
Watch in 2016 as Obama joins with politicians of both parties to change how drug addiction is legally treated.
Michelle Obama has championed the effort to reform school nutrition to raise a generation of healthier kids and promote general wellbeing. In particular, a bill was passed in 2015 to ensure that all the children who receive free school lunches (due to poverty) will receive more robust meals.
Watch in 2016 as the Obama family continues to push for healthier lifestyles.
Terrorism has once again gripped the world. Following the rise of ISIS and the spree of attacks in San Bernadino, Paris, Beirut and elsewhere, US citizens are understandably worried about terrorism.
Watch in 2016 as Obama ramps up his efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. This may involve the deployment of more ground troops.
The fight for a $15 USD minimum wage has gained substantial support across the country as people recognize that the current federal level--$7.25--can never support an adult, let alone a family. Cities such as San Francisco, New York and Seattle have passed their own measures to raise wages.
Related issues that have gained traction are paid family leave, paid vacation and paid sick days. Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal employees and contractors and has ordered paid sick leave for all federal contractors. His administration hopes that these measures will have a snowball effect throughout the country.
In 2016, watch as Obama continues to campaign for worker’s rights.
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